15 Months

Grief hasn’t been my friend over the last few weeks and it’s plastered all over my face for the world to see. I feel tired all the time, I could fall asleep anywhere at anytime and some days I can feel myself drowning in sadness. The bags under my eyes show the heavy weight of grief I am carrying inside me. I’m forgetting things – Isla’s extra tap lessons in preparation for her upcoming exam, Florence’s after school singing group, payments for school discos and Rainbow/Guides Pantomime trip.

Some days feel so long, almost never ending. And some days whizz by in a flash.

I try to keep myself busy – I find that being out of the house and around other people helps, but it doesn’t ‘fix’ anything.

Nothing can be fixed now and I have come to terms with that, but I need to attempt to paper over the cracks. My Lennon shaped hole will never be filled, not even slightly, however, that the outside of that gapping black hole can be made more colourful and prettier. And only I can do that…..

Last week I came to the realisation that what I am feeling is depression. I know this because I have suffered with depression since Lennon was born. Not severely, but enough to need a low dose of medication to keep my sadness suppressed.

Lennon and I during a long stay on Badger Ward, GOSH.

I arranged to meet our hospice nurse and one of our continuing care nurses for coffee last week and I found talking with them about Lennon and sharing memories helped to alleviate some of the sadness. I could talk about Lennon all day everyday and I find great comfort in doing so. But there aren’t many people who still talk about Lennon. Maybe they think bringing him into the conversation will remind me of what I’ve lost and make me sad. It can’t – there are no reminders, he is forever on my mind and in my heart. Every second of every day.

We speak about Lennon everyday at home and he is still very much a part of our lives. Our house is full of reminders and happy memories. Florence often sits in his wheelchair at the table to eat dinner and Isla squeezes her size 3’s into his tiny bright Yo Gabba Gabba socks – I love hanging them on the washing line! And as Autumn changes to Winter Ian often reminisces about his long walks around the village with Lennon in the cold wind.

Lennon loved the wind.

Bike ride to watch the baby ducks on the pond in the village.

Florence often asked where Lennon is – A question I still cannot answer as I do not know. I tell her he is sliding down rainbows somewhere, always watching and guiding us. How can I explain life after death to a 5 year old when I don’t understand it myself…..?

Florence loved to steal Lennon’s books!
Isla helping Lennon to draw.

Lennon’s beloved respite centre Nascot Lawn is due to shut its doors next week and therefor the campaign to save it has now ended. Another chapter of Lennon’s life closed forever.

Now I’m focusing on building a legacy for Lennon. I assisted in compiling the Together for Short Lives report – End of Life Care: Strengthening Choice and I recently spoke at the Hertfordshire Rapid Response Conference, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m due to share my story with student Children’s nurse next month at Hertfordshire University and I’m looking at other ways in which I can share the up and downs of Lennon’s life in order to make a difference to children, families and professional practice. The only way in which people can be educated on life with a complex child is from parents and children who have lived experience. I want to share Lennon with the world! Plus It’s good therapy for my mental health.

Telling my story at the Hertfordshire Rapid Response Conference, October 2018.

It’s a way for me to keep a part Lennon alive – his story will never die.

Lennon and Mummy x

The need to strengthen choices in Children’s Palliative Care. 

On Sunday I sat listening to BBC5Live Investigate with tears trickling down my cheeks. I felt the pain of Hayley and Charlotte describing their lives because I have walked a similar journey.

You cannot begin to imagine that journey if you have never walked in those shoes. Trust me. Since Lennon has died I now know what a ‘typical’ life is. What it is like to get through a day on 8 hours sleep, not have to make life or death decisions on no sleep, to not feel like you are solely responsible for keeping your child alive every second of every day.

Preparation for bath time.
Lennon’s medical cupboard.

The responsibilities of living with a child who requires medical care 24/7 are immense and the weight you carry is beyond heavy. It’s unimaginable.

Lennon had always required a high level of care at home – so much so that neither Ian or could work. Our care package was always good (not brilliant) and generally we managed ok. We were lucky enough to receive 36 nights a year respite at Nascot Lawn – an NHS nurse led respite provision and that made all the difference to how we coped. We knew that we had one weekend every month when we could catch up on sleep, spend time with Isla and Florence and prepare ourselves for the month ahead.

In the last few months of Lennon’s life everything changed. We spent a long period of time in hospital and when Lennon was discharged his needs increased to a point where we felt like we were drowning. Our care package was increased but that only touched the sides.

Lennon helping to carry his notes to an outpatients appointment. (Said notes ended up all over the lift floor seconds after this photo was taken!)
Lennon recovering after his ileostomy surgery.

We couldn’t cope and that broke my heart. All I wanted was to be able to care for my child and look after him myself, but I needed constant help to be able to do that.

And then a bombshell was dropped onto us. We were told that Nascot Lawn was closing due to a decision made by Herts Valley CCG to withdraw funding to the service.

Isla and Florence helping to drop Lennon for his last ever stay at Nascot Lawn the weekend before he died.

We instantly knew that there was no way we would be able to cope without our weekend off every month, and that frightened me. My fight the Save Nascot began.

I spent the last 6 weeks of Lennon’s life campaigning alongside other parents against this awful decision whilst still providing him with the 24/7 care he needed.

I resent that hugely. I look back and wish it hadn’t of been that way. I hate that I look back on last weeks of my beloved sons and remember the overwhelming fear that I had at that time.

Lennon playing with Mummy and Daddy after being interviewed for BBC Radio 4.

And that’s why the Together for Short Lives report End of Life Care: Strengthening Choice means so much to me.

For families like mine, high quality children’s palliative care is essential. Without it, we just couldn’t have survived. We need the government to fulfil its commitment and help children and families make the most of every minute.

When you have a life limited child you should not be fighting for help. You should be spending quality time with your children making memories – you never know how long you will have them for.

Meeting Buzz and Woody at Hollywood Studios, Florida.

Good palliative care and short breaks for life limited children should not be a postcode lottery, families should not have to rely solely on charities to enable them to survive and they should certainly not be begging for what they need.

I could not fault the care Lennon received from our local Children’s Hospice Keech, especially after he died. They were always on the end of the phone and they looked after Lennon at short notice whenever we had a major crisis’. But they are under huge pressures – Keech need to raise over £6 million every year to enable them to care for their patients and families.

Lennon and Isla enjoying the gardens at Keech Hospice.

We were one of the lucky ones. Most families like ours do not have out of hours support or access to regular short breaks.

The Together for Short Lives inquiry found that 46% of Clinical Commissioning Groups aren’t implementing the Governments end of life care commitment   and have no plans to do so.

Our government must take urgent steps to ensure the support that children with life-limiting conditions need is delivered so that other parents can look back on their child’s final weeks and see happiness, not resentment.

Daddy’s favorite photo of his beloved Son x

Find out more about the Together for Short Lives APPG enquiry report: https://www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/changing-lives/speaking-up-for-children/policy-advocacy/all-party-parliamentary-group-for-children-who-need-palliative-care/

And you can listen to BBC5Live Investigates programme featuring Hayley and Charlotte here:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000tmp

But maybe grab some tissues first ….

In a Different Life

When I was pregnant with my first child, I imagined all the experiences I would have with my son. As I’m sure all expectant mothers do. Not just the first few weeks and months, but also the years ahead.

Breastfeeding, cuddles, learning to walk and ride a bike.

Trips to the park, standing on the sidelines watching him play football or rugby, and waving him off for his first day at Secondary School.

Little did I know that my life with a first born child would be so different.

Different.

Not worse, in fact sometimes better – And certainly much more interesting and fulfilling in ways only a Special Needs Parent could possibly imagine.

Tube feeding, cuddles with wires everywhere frightened you would knock something that was keeping your baby alive. Bringing your baby home for first time, aged 6 months.

Lennon’s first day at school.

Learning to walk in a frame aged 5, fundraising for an adapted wheelchair bike.

Spending endless days, weeks, months inside a tiny hospital room.

Today, in the life I imagined myself leading this time 12 years ago, Lennon would of started Secondary School. I would be straightening a wonky tie, taming messy hair, shining a pair of smart black shoes and watching an 11 year old out of the front door.

That day was never meant be.

Instead, I would of been administering a ton of medications, changing dressing, emptying stoma bags and packing medical equipment and supplies ready for the day ahead. I would of smothered my gorgeous boy with kisses and cuddles before pushing him out of the front door in his wheelchair and onto the school bus.

Trying to get a photo of them all together always took many attempts….
Finally!

But I am not doing that either.

Instead I am waving off only 2 of my 3 children for their first day of the school year. Florence into year 1 and Isla into year 6.

If you told me I could have Lennon back, even for the shortest time, and I could choose between the Son I imagined all those years ago, or the Lennon we were given, I would never choose the life that I imagined and dreamt of.

I would always choose the Lennon I know and love and our extraordinary life.

Lennon having fun at school, his favourite place.

There will be many Special Needs Parents sending their children off to school this morning wishing that they were on their way to a mainstream secondary school.

I’m sat here wishing my son was alive and that I was standing at my door waving him off on the school bus to his severe learning disability school, watching his beaming smile and flapping arms as the bus turns the corner at the bottom of my road.

The last ‘First day of school’ photo of all of my children x

1 Year

Well, I won’t lie, it was a really tough day.

In all fairness it was always going to be.

We all feel the pain of the last year and no matter how hard you try to forget the really bad moments, they still appear in your mind like an old fashioned showreel.

I forced myself out of bed and after a long, hard cry we ventured out of the flat to spend the day at the beach. It was a day Lennon truly would of enjoyed. The girls spent most of the day in the sea and building sand turtles fittingly named ‘Len’ and ‘Len Len’ after their brother.

In the evening we went out for a meal and sat by the harbour, eating ice creams and reminiscing about all the good times we shared in Torquay as a family of five.

As the day went on everyone’s mood slowly improved – helped somewhat by the sand, sea and sun. And the memories of the last time we were all together in Torquay – Lennon shrieking and arm flapping with delight whilst watching the fairground rides, and how thrilled he was being pushed out to sea in his dinghy. He loved the water and it seemed most appropriate that we spent the day by the sea.

We did struggle to decide what to do. People asked us what would we do on the anniversary of Lennon’s death?

To me, anniversaries mark happy days. Days to remember positive life events: a wedding anniversary for instance.

A celebration.

The day Lennon died is not a day to celebrate. August the 3rd will remain the saddest, most traumatic day of my life and I do not wish to celebrate the day my brave little soldier died.

If I could of slept through that day, I would of.

Ian has been amazing since we arrived. He has been cooking, making sure we are all fed and taken over the responsibility of the girls. I have barely lifted a finger.

It’s just what I needed. I don’t have enough energy or gumption to organise a p@£s up in a brewery at the moment.

Everything feels numb.

I didn’t need to ask him to take over, he simply did.

It’s hard to say whole year has passed, the words get stuck in my throat. Mainly because it doesn’t seem possible that my darling boy has been gone for 366 days now.

The fog of grief is slowly lifting, but the pain is still there. A constant reminder of the missing piece to my jigsaw.

1 year on through Ian’s eyes

This time last year was the toughest point of my life, it had been a 10 year plus roller coaster ride with Lennon. Some massive highs and terrible lows. But as a family we had taken it on. We always knew that Lennon would not live into adulthood. When he was in PICU at 2 years old the doctors didn’t think he was going to survive. From that moment on me and Nik dedicated our lives to him and made every moment count. Without Nik’s ability and determination we would of never have made double figures.

Since Len’s death we have had to rebuild -both emotionally and financially. It hasn’t been easy. I knew when Len died, it would be my job to lift Nik and the girls. Hopefully I have, and I’m proud of what they have achieved in a tough year.

Life will never be the same, but we will continue to make the most of it just as Len would have wanted us to.

Reading over the messages we received this time last year meant a lot. So many people I didn’t even know were following our story.

My aim was for Len to never be forgotten and touch as many peoples life’s as possible.

I think we achieved that!!

#forever10

Almost a year …

The clock carries on ticking and life moves on.

A life without Lennon.

Whatever I do, it is always with Lennon at the forefront of my mind. He is still my first thought when I awake to a new day and my last thought before I fall asleep.

Sleep has not been my friend for the last few weeks though. I lie awake having flashbacks of the days leading up to and after Lennon’s death. When I finally do fall asleep I toss and turn and wake up crying.

—————

Quite a lot has happened over the last couple of months.

I have a part time job for the NHS in Urgent Care. It’s only 10 hours a week at the weekends but I have found it to be a welcome distraction from my grief – I don’t feel so sad when my mind is occupied.

My blog won a BAPS (Bloody Awesome Parents) award for ‘Best Newcomer’. The very gorgeous Gethin Jones presented me with my award and I cannot tell you how surprised I was! Ian and I had a lovely evenings amongst families who also walk a similar path to us.

Gethin Jones presenting my award and me trying my best to hold my tears in!

I assisted in delivering a petition to Number 10 on behalf of The Disabled Children’s Partnership.

Delivering The Disabled Children’s Partnership’s short breaks petition to No10 Downing Street.

I met with Nadhim Zahari, the Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families. I was lucky enough to talk to him about the lack of care for complex children who fall in the gap between health and social care. And how there needs to be clear guidance on which body is responsible for them.

Meeting Nadhim Zahawi at Portcullis House, Westminster.

Isla won ‘The Hinton award’ at school – an award given to the KS2 pupil who has shown real grit and determination to overcome challenges throughout the year. I am overwhelmingly proud of her, she’s had such a tough year.

Isla with her award.

Two of our Nascot Lawn families featured on BBC1 Panorama – the programme and an online version. It made difficult viewing for Ian and I. We were taken back to the extraordinary life we led with Lennon and it was a stark reminder of just how different and ordinary life is now.

Lennon’s school held a memorial morning for Lennon and unveiled the most perfect art display dedicated to him and his love of swimming. The whole morning was so well thought out and planned, with Lennon’s teachers singing and playing guitar – Lennon loved it when Nathan played his guitar! It felt comforting to return to Lennon’s favourite place and see all the staff again. I was so pleased to hear that they still think and talk about Lennon everyday, he is still very much a part of the school.

Lennon’s memorial at Amwell View school, at the entrance to the swimming pool.

The amazing charity Post Pals invited us on a weekend away to Chessington. It was a fun packed weekend and the girls thoroughly enjoyed it. We had the most amazing experience feeding giraffes and discovered that Florence is almost as much of a thrill seeker as her brother after insisting on going on the Vampire ride multiple times!

Feeding the giraffes at Chessington World of Adventures.

Better Removals are naming one of their new removal vans ‘Lennon’ in memory of our little soldier.

And I have given a few talks on my life and experiences as a Carer and mum to Lennon and really enjoyed it – I could talk about Lennon all day everyday!

One of the slides I use in my presentations to show the importance of communication between professionals.

—————

Blogging and campaigning for Nascot Lawn and disabled children has given me a purpose since Lennon died. I would give anything to have my old life back with him. That wish will never come true, but the next best thing is to share Lennon’s experiences in life, with the aim of educating others to help improve the lives of children similar to Lennon.

Lennon’s journey can educate countless people and change so many lives. Now he is not here, it is my job to share Lennon’s story and help others to learn from him.

A future without Lennon feels totally unbearable to me, despite not seeing him for almost year. But I need to find a way to survive the rest of my life, and the only way that seems possible at the moment is to keep Lennon’s memory alive in any way possible.

I still have moments when I wish that I could ‘jump off’ this ride, just for a minute to catch my breath. This year has gone way too quickly. Tears spring to my eyes and a lump appears in my throat at the mere thought of it being a whole year since Lennon was encapsulated inside our little family.

This week we will travel down to Torquay as a family of four, but we know Lennon will be with us in spirit. Our last family holiday was summer 2016 in Torquay – I’ll never forget how much Lennon enjoyed it and how much fun we all had. The weather was glorious and we managed to get Lennon into the sea. Believe me it wasn’t easy and we narrowly avoided an adrenal crisis from the cold water but it was worth it just to have those memories to hold on to now.

Lennon enjoying the sea.
Full dressing change in his wheelchair!

Ian and the girls don’t want to be at home on the anniversary of Lennon’s death. They don’t want to remember the hurt, shock and deep sadness we felt in the weeks after Lennon died. They don’t want to return to the darkness we all endured.

I have to respect their wishes and needs. The next best place to home is Torquay and the warmth of all the happy memories it holds. Lennon was always so content and relaxed at the coast. His little face always glowed in the sunshine.

I have no expectations for the day. I hope to be able to get out of bed, dressed and out of the flat and give my girls a good day.

A day that Lennon would of enjoyed.

A day we can reminisce over the amazing memories we have of Lennon, our little soldier.

Family of Five, Always.

The hidden depths of the NHS

I have been asked a few times now to write a blog post to celebrate the NHS turning 70. If you have stumbled across my blog before you will know that without the NHS Lennon would not of survived much past his birth.

Lennon at 7 days old.

I’ve thought long and hard about which of our experiences I should write about to commemorate NHS70 – Neonatal Intensive Care, Great Ormond St, Paediatric Intensive Care, the CATS retrieval team, our local hospital and community nursing team, Nascot Lawn, Lennon’s school nursing team, the Children’s Continuing Care team….. the list goes on.

Lennon ‘helping’ to carry his most recent set of notes!

I’ve already shared some of those experiences and I wanted to chose something a little different – a side of the NHS that people maybe do not think about.

Dying.

When we think about the NHS we think of peoples lives being saved, pioneering treatment, miracles. We don’t often see the other side of the NHS, but it is there and we shouldn’t ignore it.

When I think back to the care Lennon received from the NHS throughout his life, the time I think about most is the day he died. I can not fault the care and compassion that Lennon, Ian and myself received in the final few hours of Lennon’s life.

Sleeping post theatre.

I remember the look on the consultants face as the surgeon told us that there was nothing more they could do for Lennon. I’ll never forget the tears rolling down her cheeks when she came in at 3am and removed the ventilator tube that was keeping Lennon alive. It was almost like she could feel our pain. She somehow understood exactly how much Lennon meant to us and how hard we had battled to keep him alive for so long. She knew what we had given up in order for our little soldier to live his life.

I could not fault the nurses that watched over him in his final hours, they were incredibly calm and gentle. They washed and dressed Lennon in clean pyjamas, made sure he was comfortable and kept him alive until we were ready to say our final goodbyes.

They made space in Lennon’s bed for me to get in and hold onto him.

They listened to us and made sure they knew our wishes down to the finest of details. They gave us the space and time that we needed and they understood how much that moment would stay with us for the rest our lives.

After Lennon died, the nurses helped us take foot prints, hand prints, and locks of hair. They let us stay with him as long as we needed to.

They both knew Lennon. One had looked after Lennon when he was first transferred to the children’s ward at Lister aged 6 months. It must of been so hard for her to watch him die. We bumped into her at the end of her shift. Her eyes welled up with tears as she told us she had personally taken Lennon down to the morgue and then rang around to break the news to the professionals involved in Lennon’s care. I can imagine the amount of strength she mustered to do that, just so I didn’t have to.

Sometimes the smallest of gestures have the biggest of impacts.

The staff at Addenbrookes knew I wanted Lennon to be at Keech as soon as possible. I didn’t want him to be alone. They worked tirelessly to make it happen and Lennon arrived at Keech just 12 hours after he had died.

It takes a certain kind of person to care for a dying child and their family.

In the weeks after Lennon died we received letters, cards, flowers and phone calls from all over the NHS. Consultants and surgeons from Great Ormond St and Lister, nurses who had cared for Lennon, therapists who had worked hard with him and seen him flourish and develop over the years. They all took time out from their busy lives to remind us how amazing our son was, how he fought the odds and how they would miss him dearly. None of them had to do that, but they did.

The cards and flowers we received in the days after Lennon died.

It was clear that Lennon’s death had affected many people within the NHS. We all think of doctors and nurses as life savers, and they are. But they also see a sadder side of the NHS and sometimes have to admit defeat and watch their patients die.

Our NHS saves lives, but it also grieves the lives it couldn’t save.

We must not forget the impact that has.

Thank you to the NHS for giving us 10 amazing years with our little soldier Lennon, and for being there when it mattered the most.

We will be eternally grateful ❤️

Mummy, Daddy, Lennon x

8 months

“The pain you feel now will ease with time.”

So far, I have found this to be statement untrue. As yet the pain has not decreased at all, in fact it feels like it has increased. With each day that passes I miss Lennon more and more, and it hurts. The gapping hole in our lives feels like it is slowly growing.

I’ve gone from sleeping like a log to sleeping badly. I’ve never struggled to sleep before. I toss and turn in bed, trying to turn my complex thoughts into some form of sense.

Recently Lennon appears frequently in my dreams – sometimes he is alive, others he is dead. And despite waking up some nights sobbing, struggling to catch my breath, I do get great comfort from seeing him. I find myself feeling upset when I don’t dream about him.

Sleeping peacefully.

Every morning I get up to yet another day without Lennon.

There are days when I have to force myself out of bed. Grief is exhausting – it seems to steal my energy leaving my head foggy. If it wasn’t for my girls I don’t think I would make the effort to get up and dressed every day.

Florence has been struggling with her grief. Her behaviour has been awful for over a month now. Granted, she has never been an ‘easy’ child (anyone who’s spent time with her will know that!) but even school have noticed that she is talking about Lennon more so than usual.

She regularly asks where Lennon has gone and it’s so hard for us to explain. Lennon is dead, but I have no idea ‘where’ he is….

Florence and Lennon enjoying the swings.

My little girl needs bereavement support – support that I cannot give her.

Florence is a strong, stubborn child and doesn’t like to ‘talk’ or explain how she feels. She is a complex character and even I, as her mother, find her difficult to understand.

Isla however is the opposite. She is an outwardly sensitive child who wears her heart on her sleeve. She is much easier to read and will always approach someone when her feelings overwhelm her.

Isla and Lennon during one of Lennon’s long stays at Great Ormond Street. Even then she missed him when he wasn’t at home.

Isla has fantastic support at school, which is good as she doesn’t like to get upset in front of Ian and I. School is her safe place to grieve. She struggles in the holidays – there is no where for her to hide her grief from us and the Lennon shaped hole in our home is so much more apparent in the school holidays.

Isla misses her brother and is struggling to coming to terms with the fact that she will never see her big brother again.

Watching my children grieve for their brother is as painful as my own grief.

Enjoying Torquay together.

I have been having flashbacks. My mind wanders back to that day. I replay moments minute by minute. I remember the last time he was at home, in his bed. I see Ian carrying him out to the ambulance.

I find myself back in the Intensive care unit, signing the consent form for Lennon to go to theatre. Lying next to him in bed while the doctors turns of his life support.

I try my hardest to override those thoughts with happy memories – Lennon’s bright, beaming smile and his clicking noises.

Big smiles for Daddy! 
Lennon enjoying the freedom of his walking frame.

Life without Lennon is still so difficult to comprehend.

I cannot imagine life without grief and pain and I cannot imagine the pain getting easier with time.

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

Lennon, Mummy and Daddy x

6 months

On the 3rd February 2018 it was 6 months since our darling boy departed life.

6 months without hearing his loud clicking noises or his cheeky belly laugh.

6 months without seeing his big glassy blue eyes or his arms flapping wildly.

6 months of not climbing into my little soldiers bed every night to squeeze him tightly and kiss him goodnight.

Lennon in bed. He loved sleeping at home in his own bed.

The pain of living my life without Lennon increases everyday. I miss him. I miss my old life. I miss being Lennon’s Mummy. It hurts. It is still a deep, heavy pain that I cannot describe.

I’m beginning to realise that grief doesn’t leave you – It becomes a permanent fixture in your life. You have to learn to co-exist with grief.

—–

A few nights ago I had a vivid dream about Lennon. So intense and lifelike that for the first few seconds upon waking, I thought it was true.

I dreamt that Lennon had returned to life. I didn’t know how, but he was back with us, where he belongs.

I thought how lucky it was that we had kept his wheelchair – we could take him outside.

Lennon loved to be outside.

Lennon at his ‘happy place’ the village ford. He could sit for hours watching the ducks and the water flowing underneath the bridge. 

I was pushing Lennon in his chair up a steep hill, but he was too heavy and we couldn’t reach the peak.

Then he was back in his bedroom, lying in his beloved fishbowl bed. I had forgotten to administer his medications. I was angry and disappointed with myself that I had forgotten my strict, daily routine and worried that he would become poorly because of a stupid mistake I had made.

I loved watching him sleep, especially when he put his hands under his head.

I subsequently moved Lennon’s large medication unit into his bedroom to help me remember.

—–

It was all a dream. When the cold, unwanted truth hit me, I sobbed.

I was crest fallen that he wasn’t back, he is gone. Gone forever.

I was also saddened by the thought that I have lost my skills. Skills that I had proudly built up over 10 years. Procedures that I will never carry out again. Replacing a surgical jejunostomy tube, passing a nasal gastric tube, deep throat suctioning, replacing a gastrostomy button, putting on an ileostomy bag, accessing a port-a-Cath and taking blood.

Preparing Lennon’s medications during a hospital stay.

All that expertise built up over so many years. I was proud of the responsibility I had bestowed upon me – yes, the pressure of it was immense and overwhelming, but being competent in all the procedures Lennon needed to enable him to stay at home with his family and away from hospitals was incredibly gratifying.

Keeping Lennon at home was very important to me.

Life has changed so much.

It is becoming more and more apparent to me that I am no longer a part of the ‘Special kids mums’ club. I am no longer living an extraordinary life.

I am a bereaved mother.

Forever.

I can’t go back – no matter how much I wish that I could.

Lennon and Mummy x

Our first Christmas and New Year without Lennon

We made it through Christmas and New Year, and escaped only slightly scathed out of the other side and into 2018.

Christmas cards arrived and the sight of Lennon’s name missing from them all stung, tears pricked my eyes with the opening of each one.

You may be surprised when I tell you that only 3 people thought to mention that they knew Christmas would be hard for us this year and they would be thinking of us.

The rest all wished us ‘Happy Christmas’ and prosperous ‘New Year’ – How anyone could possible think that our Christmas would be happy and our New Year prosperous is completely beyond me!

Do you think if your child had died 5 months previous you would have a ‘Happy Christmas’?!

After Lennon’s Birthday and the deep sadness I felt in the festive period, Christmas Day was surprisingly going ok. I had made it out of bed in the morning and was dragged downstairs by 2 very excited girls desperate to see the delights that Santa had left behind during the night. Their excitement and enthusiasm carried me through the day, and I felt pleasantly surprised that Christmas Day wasn’t half as bad as I was expecting it to be.

Isla and Florence on Christmas morning.
All Florence wanted for Christmas was Lennon, and a pink car that she could drive.
Isla opening presents.

Until we sat down to eat Christmas Dinner with Ian’s parents and his uncle. The space where Lennon’s wheelchair sat in the dining room suddenly seemed so vast and empty. I felt sad, and that was the start of the downward spiral.

Someone let it slip that Ian had booked a trip to Paris over Mothers Day with his mates. He intentionally hadn’t consulted with me before he went ahead and paid for it and everyone knew except me. He had been hiding it from me with no intention.

Ian wouldn’t be home on Mothers Day. I will have to get through my first Mothers Day without my son alone.

I couldn’t believe he didn’t even pay me so much as a fleeting thought when he booked it.

That hurt.

I was already struggling with my emotions and the pain of dealing with the first Christmas without my eldest child, this revelation tipped me over the edge – like rubbing salt in a cut.

As soon as we arrived home I made my way straight to bed and didn’t surface until late morning on Boxing Day. I forced myself to get up and dressed for my girls.

Ian and I had a blazing argument.

He walked out.

He came home.

We went drove to my mums separately.

We ate dinner, opens presents and I went home.

I took the Christmas tree down and packed away our first Christmas without Lennon. I wanted Christmas over and done with. I didn’t want anymore Christmas without Lennon.

Our Christmas tree, full of memories.

Ian and I made up. Life’s too short to waste time arguing.

The day after Boxing Day we had tickets for Disney On Ice at The O2 – Lennon’s Christmas present that I had booked in the weeks before he died. We went every Christmas. Lennon wasn’t interested in presents so we spent money on days out instead – Lennon loved experiences and trips out and Disney on Ice was one of his favourites.

Lennon enjoying Disney on Ice, Christmas 2016.

We travelled down on the tube and the atmosphere wasn’t great. The magnitude of the day ahead weighing heavily on us all.

The girls throughly enjoyed it and we all spent most of the performance pointing out the little things Lennon would of loved and talking about how much we missed him not sitting amongst us, shouting and arm flapping.

At the end of the performance, snow floated down and covered us, butterflies flew above the ice and we knew Lennon was right there with us.

The butterflies in the Disney on Ice performance.

The days before New Year were mainly long and dull. Ian went back to work and I didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to take the girls anywhere. I felt a heavy fog take over me with a New Year imminent.

New Year has been a sticking point with me since Lennon was born – celebrating a New Year with a life limited child, to me felt completely out of the question. The approaching year could be Lennon’s last – why on earth would we want to celebrate that?!

This time the New Year brought a new torment with it.

2017 knew Lennon.

Lennon knew 2017.

Lennon was alive in 2017.

2018 would not know Lennon.

Lennon would not know 2018.

In 2018, Lennon died last year.

That hurt me.

A lot.

After spending days moping around not getting dressed and crying, by New Years Eve I had realised that I really did need to get out and make some attempt to save my drowning self.

I even put some make up on.

We took the girls for dinner at ASK and then went to the local pub for a few drinks with friends.

Florence enjoying ASK!

We had the girls with us, so no plans to stay out and see the Year change – I knew that would be a step too far for me. So we left the pub at 22:30 with Florence and ventured home. Isla wanted to stay with her friends, so we left her behind.

On the 1st of January 2018 I woke up strangely relieved. Relieved that it was all over. But still sad. Sad that Lennon died last year. Sad as the hard, cold realisation that time moves on hit me yet again.

I don’t want Lennon to be left behind in 2017.

Forever in 2017, Forever 10.

Lennon and Mummy x